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A GATHERING OF SHADES by Jr. Stahler

A GATHERING OF SHADES

By Jr. Stahler

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 10th, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-052294-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

The prologue sets the scene: An old woman sitting in an orchard at dusk chats with a group of spirits she summoned by mixing her own blood with spring water. David, unsettled by his father’s death in a car accident and angry with his mother for moving to a farm in northern Vermont, becomes fascinated with his grandmother Eloise’s nightly expeditions to the orchard to meet her ghostly friends. Stahler fashions the intricate plot very carefully, propelling it with David’s growth through grief and providing a satisfying but not clichéd resolution. Parallels to Homer’s Odyssey, sprinkled throughout, add depth without being intrusive. The fully realized characters—both teens and adults alike—raise this above the formulaic and closer to magical realism. Secondary characters are well-drawn, vivid human beings. Like many real people, some of them curse and some of them smoke, though, in a nod to current convention, they try to hide it. Unlike most dark fantasy tales, this gathering serves up few thrills and even fewer chills, but will still keep teens reading right up to the very end. (Fiction. YA)